UIL contestants in 1925
UIL journalism contestants in 1925.

UIL: An early innovation of the “UT Extension Department”


For 100 years, CIE has served Texans by making education accessible to anyone with a desire to learn. CIE’s history is full of educational services and programs that benefit students of all ages and backgrounds. Perhaps none of these programs has touched more lives in Texas than the creation and operation of the University Interscholastic League (UIL).

The creation of UIL reaches back 100 years when university President Sidney R. Mezes, working with the “UT Extension Department” (now CIE), established the Debating League of Texas High Schools to help young students cultivate their public speaking skills. The League held its first competition in 1911 when 10 high school debating teams traveled to Austin and competed for university scholarships. In 1914, it was rechristened the University Interscholastic League, after merging with the Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Since its creation, UIL has grown into the largest interschool organization of its kind in the world. UIL exists to provide extracurricular academic and athletic contests that build character, nurture fair play, and prepare students for citizenship. UIL is built on the belief that interscholastic competition is a chief motivator toward encouraging young people to enrich their educations and expand their horizons. Through UIL competitions, students build self-confidence, experience teamwork, and feel a sense of pride whether or not they are named "winner."

Today, UIL enhances the experiences of over 2 million students at over 1,000 high schools in Texas.

The creation of the UIL stands as one of CIE’s finest accomplishments.


Tags: uil, sidney r. mezes, extension department, 100 years,